Get Started with Email Encryption Mac and iOS

It is no good just setting up your email encryption on your Mac, although that’s a good start. You have to also make sure that your iOS devices are similarly protected. There are bound to be occasions when you’ve got an email that is coming to your mail inbox on your iPhone or your iPad encrypted. Therefore, it only makes sense to make sure you have at least one application set up so you can decrypt the message. Otherwise you will have to wait until you get back home or get to a place where you can use your new MacBook. I have tried a couple of applications on iOS and they both work fine. These are applications that will let you hook into your Pretty Good Privacy key pairs you have already set up on your Mac. With iPGMail you can also create your PGP key pair if you want to. With iPGMail, same as with oPenGPG Lite you can import keys you have created using GPG Tools Keychain application on your Mac. It’s recommended you use the iTunes file sharing to move the file you create, a .ASC file if you have included a secret key/private key. This is the route to take for moving the files if you want to have maximum security. You do have to be as careful as possible to protect the secret key, so your email privacy is not compromised. If somebody wants to get their hands on your private key, all you can do is to use the revocation certificate. You created that usually at the time when you made the key. The revocation certificate is also important and you will have installed that on a thumb drive off some sort and perhaps put it into a safe.

Give me a PGP Cheatsheet

GPG Tools icon

The basics of Pretty Good Privacy encryption

If you want to send an encrypted email to a friend you have to encrypt the message using HIS public key.

If you want to receive encrypted email from your friend he will have to encrypt using YOUR public key.

It really is as simple as that! You only have to remember that PGP keys have come in pairs. You have a public key which you can publish wherever you like and give to whomever you wish. You have a private or secret key and you don’t let anybody have it or see it. If you wish to decrypt an encrypted message it has to be done with the secret key corresponding to the public key used to encrypt it.

Who did the email come from?

The other side of privacy and security is to make sure when you receive an email you are certain who sent it. For this we have the process where you can sign your emails with your secret key. This does not encrypt the message, all it does is to tell the recipient who sent the message. You can send an unencrypted message that has been signed. When you set up your email app plug-in with Apple mail the default is to sign all messages. This alerts recipients that you are using PGP encryption so they can obtain your public key and reply with an encrypted message. When both parties are using PGP encryption within the email app the plug-in makes it work automatically. It knows that your communications with that person should be encrypted and signed. When an email comes in from your friend using encryption it is decrypted automatically. Unless you have changed the default so you need to click on the decrypt button first. You might want to do it that way if you’re working in an office and there is a chance someone could be reading over your shoulder.

GPGMail and Inbox 3 messages 1 unread

Creating a Web of Trust

When I trust a key belonging to my friend is uncompromised and most definitely his key, I can sign that key. This means if a message comes in and it looks like it’s from my friend, but not using that key, I might want to do some checking to see if the message is trustworthy. If you are working with a group of people you could all sign each other’s keys. The more signatures a key has then the more likely it is to be trusted. If somebody outside of the group was to create a spoof key, that it would not have the signatures you would normally see from members of your group. Even if the message looked like it came from within the group, it wouldn’t take you long to work out the message and the sender of the message probably shouldn’t be trusted.

Book Cover Geeky Encryption  350

With all the various scenarios possible, miscreants could use to do something naughty with email it could get complicated. For most of us ordinary users we don’t need to worry about it too much. We don’t need to think much more than the basics of using public and private keys. It’s only going to be where there is information or data of higher value, you will have people trying to get around security measures you’ve taken. So don’t worry too much about the higher end security features of Pretty Good Privacy. For a start off they are taken care of with the web of trust created by key signing. Secondly, it is only going to be in edge case situations where it’ll have any relevance for you.

I have a book available on the Amazon bookstore called – Good and Geeky Email Privacy and Security. In the book there are step-by-step guides to help you set up your Pretty Good Privacy email encryption. You can also use PGP to encrypt files and folders on your computer whether you are sending them as a message or not. I also use certificates you can get from StartSSL for S/Mime encryption. I can interact with those friends who prefer to use that instead. I think it is a good idea to have both encryption possibilities on your computers.

Give me a PGP Cheatsheet

Posted in Mac20Q.

Scrivener The best Software for Writers

Getting started with Scrivener

On Mac 20 questions the website many times I have talked about how I love to use Scrivener. In the Mac 20 Questions podcast I interviewed the main developer of the application Keith Blount. I’ve written many thousands of words within the application for my blogs and I have a lot of words in Scrivener projects for books. What is completely baffling to me at the moment, is how come I haven’t done some sort of tutorial about Scrivener. How come I haven’t created a really long post going into details about the application, commenting on all of the excellent features for writers. Scrivener is quite easy to use, in-as-much as it’s so intuitive. On account of the application being so competent with many excellent features, it does need some explaining for all of the things you can do with it. Let’s start with a comparison with MS Word and an overview of Scrivener and then get into some details.

Scrivener Scrivener versus Microsoft Word

Scrivener versus Microsoft Word

The Microsoft Word application is a huge monster of a word processor and has been developed and designed for use within offices and business. Word has its good points, but it is also true to say that it has become bloated over the years. You can write novels within the application and many people do. It isn’t the best tool for the job though. All of the marvellous things you can do with it to create great looking documents are not really helpful for the specific task of writing a novel or even for a non-fiction work of book length.

Twelve of the Best Reasons to get Scrivener

One of the things about using Microsoft Word is that when people are using it, they are tempted to mess about with the formatting and the look of the document. Rather than actually getting the writing completed. Writers will mess about with the font size, headings and anything to do with how the document is going to look when it is finally set to whatever output. When you’re using Scrivener you just set the look of the document as you are writing so that it is easy to read. Forget about how the document will be when it is finally finished until it is time to compile. There is even a distraction free mode which clears everything else away from the screen apart from the window you’re writing in. The controls for that mode slide away from the screen to be hidden, so you can concentrate just on your writing.

Scrivener Distraction Free Mode

There is a movement to use distraction free writing applications and to use markdown syntax for writing. I think this is a very good idea and I like to use applications such as Byword. These applications give you limited scope for twiddling and fiddling and make you concentrate on getting the words out of your head and onto the page. This is a great way to go and could be a step along the way towards your larger document, especially if you are doing part of the work on your iPad. You could write 1000 words in Byword on your iPad and using iCloud those words will be transferred so that they are immediately available when you open up Byword on your Mac. For those longer documents which could be a very long blog post, a short story, a novella or a complete novel, this is where you need to start using Scrivener. Scrivener is your funnel into which you put all of your various bits of writing and you organise it so that it makes sense. It really depends upon what sort of writer you are and what sort of workflow you like to use. You can write directly into Scrivener and you can use it as a one-stop shop for your writing.

Scrivener was designed specifically for the writer and author. The reason for it being created and developed was that the developer was looking for a tool, an application that would scratch his own itch. Many of the best applications available have started like this. Scrivener was designed by an author to be used by authors. So what does it have, that makes it so good?


The way I use Scrivener

Dictate Status Window and Name Generator

I am a user of DragonDictate, this is the speech to text software that turns my words into text on the page. I use this application because I can write so much quicker and I don’t have too touch the keyboard. After two or three years of using the application I have found that it works better if I dictate into a DragonDictate window. There are some applications I can dictate into and it works quite well and then others it’s okay to start with and after a while it becomes less accurate. So this is why I do my writing in a different application from Scrivener and then copy and paste it after the first dictated draft. Occasionally I will dictate directly into Scrivener for shorter pieces of writing. I can usually get away with it for three or four paragraphs.

If I have written something that is may be a couple of thousand words long I can put it into one text section in Scrivener and split it up afterwards. I can split it up using keyboard shortcuts or by choosing menu items, I usually prefer to place my cursor where I want to make the split do the equivalent of a right click on the Magic Trackpad and choose the context sensitive command of Split at Selection. Sometimes if I have headings within the text I will select the heading and use the command of Split with Selection As Title. At this stage I can do any rearranging of the order of the sections of text in the outliner.

I tend to do most of my outlining in the binder and I have added the icons in the menubar to make it easy to move part of the document up or down in the order. I also have the icons in there so I can make one or more sections I have selected to be child documents of another. An example of that would be where you have the scenes being child documents of a chapter.


Outlining in Outliner View

Scrivener Draft

I sometimes use the keyboard

When I am doing the editing of the text in Scrivener I usually do that mostly using the keyboard. Mostly this is to make changes of the grammar with the addition of punctuation etc. I might be adding some words or maybe a whole sentence here or there. I also use the application Hemingway to analyse the text for readability. I will cut and copy out and paste back in when finished that stage of the editing. I work on one section of the text at a time and when I have finished that part of the editing are usually change the icon in the binder so I know which ones I have edited. I can also do that in the information part of a window on the right-hand side as there is a section in there for specifying the status. So I could change the status from being first draft to edited.

Project Targets Scrivener

Writing to a target number of words

Project Targets Scrivener and Scrivener Scrivener versus Microsoft Word

A tool I like to use is the project target tool. I can decide how many words I would like to have in a project and within those settings I can set a date for when the project is to be finished. I can set which days I expect to work on the project which is usually going to be Monday to Friday. Scrivener will then show me in a pop-up dialogue box the word count for the whole project and the target for the day. The target for the day is variable depending upon how many words have been written to the point you have got to so far. An example of this would be for the NaNoWriMo so you would set your project target to 50,000 words. If you expect to write for each day of the 30 days of November your daily word count will be 1666. If on the first day you write 3000 words when you look at the target for the next day it will be something less than 1666. Same thing if you have a day off, the next day your daily word count will be higher.

Being organised and using the synopsis

The synopsis for a section of text which you can see in the corkboard view on the cards, in the outline view and also in the information area is a useful tool when you are being organised. Being organised and planning your work is one way to be more productive and effective with your writing. If you are a professional writer I think it is probably inevitable that you will do some outlining even if you do like to write by the seat of your pants. With the zombie novel I am writing at the moment I started that off by writing the first couple of chapters just by free writing. I had the ideas in my head and they needed to be captured and turned into text as quickly as possible. So I just let the words flow to be the starting point for the project. I could possibly move onto the next chapters not knowing what’s going to happen and the story could have a life of its own. The trouble with this sort of writing is that you could end up wasting a lot of time by writing yourself into a dead-end. My plan is to plot the rest of the story out and start by writing a synopsis of the end of the book. There could be the last chapter or it could be the last couple of chapters. I want to know how it finishes. The best place to do that is going to be in Scrivener and I could do that in the Cork board by creating a card and make a little outline of what I expect to happen in that final chapter. The next thing to do will be to create cards for the basic three act structure and to start adding chapters to cover the various plot points. The general idea will be to make things as bad as they can be during the first act and then make things even worse for the second act. My notes in the synopsis can cover how I expect the mindset of the protagonists to change after what I have put him through. I can have notes about how I expect the seemingly unsolvable problems to get sorted out in order to bring the novel to a conclusion in the final chapters.

Scrivener Draft

During this process I would highly recommend using the Good And Geeky Writers Workflow and to make use of mind mapping applications such as iThoughts on the iPad and iThoughtsX on the Mac. This is a great way to gather ideas together and to let the brain working away that it works best. Use all of the ideas from your mind map to populate the synopsis for each of the chapters in your book.

Twelve of the Best Reasons to get Scrivener

The next stage of the process

The key to creativity is a combination of using organisation and planning and allowing for flexibility and just going with the flow. So followed by some organising we allowed ourselves to have some free writing freedom. Then what happens, is that you get all excited about one of the ideas you have written down as a synopsis for a part of your story. What else can you do but to jump right in there and turn those fantastic ideas into words and stories. I think it is this combination of being organised and going with the flow that is the perfect storm of creativity.

The Birds Eye view is art – The nitty-gritty is a to-do list

Smoking Zombies Chapter

When you look at a book as a whole can’t help but think that is the epitome of art. When it comes down to it arts and creativity is nothing more than a series of decisions. The ability to make those decisions is an art whether it is good art depends upon the quality of the decisions. I believe it is true to say that making a decision to love the way a happy accident turned out and to develop it, is just another one of those creative decisions we make along the way. Writer said to make recently that he thought having software designed specifically for writers was a creativity killer. This same writer is using Microsoft Word to do his writing. I’d be the opinion that using software more suited to creating business documents and less suitable for creative work would be more of a creativity killer. I love the way that I can use Scrivener in a number of different ways and all of the options are available because that’s the way writers work.

A view of your world – The writers world

There will be times when you’re working on your project and you want to see all of it as a whole. You can do this with Scrivener. So instead of looking at just one of the sections of text or all of what you have in on chapter, you can see the whole thing. Maybe you want to see section of text that are not next to each other in the binder, that works too. That would be cool if you have made a collection of all the parts that have mention of one of your characters. You can go through it to make sure the character is properly represented in each part. You can make sure the character has the right description in all scenes. Save the search in case you want to get back to it later. You could decide you want to make the character look string and more vital in the story. In the collection you’ve saved you can read through it all and make the necessary changes. Collections in Scrivener is a handy tool to keep track of some things in your writing.

Synchronise with apps on mobile devices

It is not something I do often but you can sync up between Scrivener and a few different mobile applications. I prefer to leave what I have in Scrivener alone and feed more text into it from where ever I have created it, such as in Simplenote or Index Card. Daedalus is an interesting text editor and also works with Scrivener. You can Synchronise with a folder with Scrivener and if that is a folder one of your mobile apps works with you can move between Mac and iOS with relative ease. Synchronisation is not an easy thing though and you alway have to be careful that you don’t overwrite something. This could happen if you leave something open and unsaved/synchronised on either side and start working on the project on the other side. The system won’t know which one should be the one to keep.

Index card

To be honest I am not keen on the sync out of Scrivener text. I much prefer to have text being funnelled into it from Byword or Drafts on iOS. I have tried out these sync options and of them I prefer syncing to Index Card app.

Twelve of the Best Reasons to get Scrivener

Posted in Mac Software.

Hiding away in Scrivener

That is just about all I have time for at the moment. Hiding in Scrivener writing as much as I can writing the books I am publishing on Amazon. The two books I have put on there already have been downloaded quite a few times already and I have the third book halfway towards being finished and ready to publish too. As you might expect, the books are heavily Mac and iOS biased because that’s where I do my stuff. I work with DragonDictate writing the words until the evening time when my wife is asleep in the room next door and I revert to the keyboard again. I don’t want to keep her awake with me talking to my computer. Sometimes I wish I had a Macbook Air that I could take upstairs and use in a room where I could continue talking. I might just do that next year.

Get the PDF The Scrivener Dozen. Twelve reasons to use Scrivener

Diving into the nuts and bolts of PGP encryption

I like to use encryption to get privacy with my emails. very important in these days we are aware of what the governments are poking their noses into. I’ve got nothing in particular I need to hide, but I do like to keep my finances and my medical details to myself. I also like to make sure that I don’t leave other data lying around that the bad guys could use to steal my identity. There is a financial lull around the world and that drives people to do bad things if they need the money. I don’t have a lot of money but all the more reason to protect it by using a good password manager and also not giving any information away in the emails. So this is the basis for Good and Geeky Book 3. What do you think would be a good title for the book?

  1. Good and Geeky – Mastery of Email Privacy
  2. Good and Geeky – Email Encryption
  3. Good and Geeky – Privacy and Security

Affinity PhotoAffinity Photo

I tried out this app this week and I’m impressed. Not everything is working in the beta version but still works great. I can’t wait for the final version to be available because it is a seriously class act. Using it alongside the Affinity Designer application will be an explosion of creativity for me. This will be an excellent alternative to Pixelmator to use on the Mac. These guys at Affinity are totally committed to giving us top quality design software. I did take some time off from the writing to use this and I wish I could spend more time with it.



Posted in Mac20Q.

Mac20Q Podcast 124 – Looking in iBooks Author

My week as a Mac user, or should I say my week as a Apple aficionado. I’m still enjoying using Siri first thing in the morning to get the day started. I like to have the iPad beside the bed with me at night time. I was able to thoroughly amuse my wife this morning when I asked Siri “Who is the fairest of them all ?” And Siri told me of course – You are the fairest of all my friend.


Ninety Days Exclusive with KDP Select

This week I’ve spent an awful lot of time sitting at my desk staring at my iMac and in particular looking at Scrivener. This is because I am full on with my writing of books at the moment. When I get started with something I like to totally immerse myself and I don’t get much time for anything else. Last week I put out the Geek Photography book onto Amazon and it will stay just on Amazon for 90 days because I went with the exclusive deal that you have with KDP Select. My next book, the one that I’m working on now is the Good and Geeky Writers Workflow and I am painstakingly going through the editing stage. If I had the money I would pay for an editor to edit the book, although I would probably still find a couple of typos even after that. Small typos and spelling mistakes are notoriously evil and wicked in their behaviour and some will always remain hidden long after you think you have got rid of the last one. So that is what I’ve been doing for the last few days, going through the text line by line, reading it out aloud in hunting mode. I also find one or two sentences here and there that need to have a little bit of a tweak. So hopefully the book will get better bit by bit and will soon be ready to send out into the world. This second book I plan to send to more online bookstores. I’m not going to go for the exclusivity with Amazon for the first 90 days and so I will need to get this book into iBooks author.

iBooks author is marvellous

I haven’t looked into iBooks author for quite a few months and I was pleased to see that there is a new import facility where you can bring in a complete e-book in the EPUB format. The last time I tried to import into iBooks author I was having to do it one chapter at a time. That was a little bit tedious to say the least. Mind you, I can see that the look and the format of the book in iBooks author will be very different from the Kindle book. The Kindle book is straightforward text with a few pictures, whereas the iBook will have much more of a design. I’ve checked out a few good-looking iBooks and they look so great in comparison. I would feel cheated, not to mention cheating the readers, if I didn’t do something similar with my book. The ability to have blocks of text placed exactly where you want them on the page and to have other callouts where you put supporting text alongside the main text looks great. The placement of pictures works out better in iBooks as you have the same sort of control as you would have in a PDF document.

Get Free iBooks Author eBook

iBooks Author is super to work with

The tools for working with the text in iBooks author are really very useful indeed. For example there was a piece of text that I wanted to change to a specific style. I didn’t want to change the text itself to something different I only wanted to change the style. I was really pleased to find there was a way with the find and replace tool that allowed me to select every occurrence of that text within the document and to just change the style.

Good and Geeky Writers Workflow David Allen Wizardgold


Being stylish in iBooks Author

The styles that were created by the export out from scrivener worked out well but I think I’m going to have to spend some time creating my own template within iBooks author. Probably the best thing to do will be to use one of the templates already there and to customise it to my preferences.

A page turner

To a certain extent when I’m reading an iBook it feels a little bit weird because I’m used to having the nice page turning effect. I like just tapping on the right side of the screen and the page turns. In iBooks I am having to do a slide across from one side to the other and it feels a little less book like. But then again, I just had a look at another book in iBooks and it does do the page turning effect. So I will have to find out how to flick that switched to make it work.

Embedded Videos

On the Kindle side of things I can have links to videos and the videos will play within the Kindle application on my iPad. This works out pretty well as it keeps the reader within the book. I see that on the iPad you have a choice of a link to the video which takes the reader out into the YouTube application, or wherever the video is displayed. The other choice is to embed the video within the book and the reader stays in the iBooks application and this is preferable.


Overall, the what I can do with the iBooks is better because the book looks better and has a number of other interactive multimedia features. After starting to do some work with the book in iBooks author I can see that it is going to take quite a bit of time and effort in designing the book to be exactly the way that I wanted to be. It is going to be worth it in the end. I am actually looking forward to spending some time working with iBooks author. I am hoping that the publishing process is going to be as easy as it was with the Kindle book on Amazon. I think they make it now so that you don’t have to have an ISBN number which was a little bit of a sticking point before. Maybe you need to have an ISBN number for print books but for electronic books it really isn’t necessary. Now I think the ISBN system is a little bit of a scam.


Download the free eBook about iBooks Author. It includes links to video tutorials

Gimme a Free iBooks Author eBook

Posted in Mac20Q.

Mac20Q Podcast 123

Geek Photography Good and Geeky eBook David Allen Amazon co uk Kindle Store

This weekend is the weekend of the Geek Photography Book. I was all excited and completely delighted to finally get the first * book out of the Scrivener application on my Mac and published with Amazon. This is a Kindle book and it will be exclusive with Amazon for the first 90 days. This is because I have enrolled the book with KDP Select and there is a requirement to be exclusive. At the end of this period I will almost certainly publish the book in other digital bookstores including the iBookstore. I’m looking forward to making a version of the book in iBooks Author.

Get the book for free this weekend

As part of my marketing and promotional activities I have set the book to have a free promotion for this weekend. This Saturday and Sunday you can get the book from the Amazon Kindle store and no money will be required. This is to help Amazon see that there is interest in the book. This will be further helped if I can get a number of book reviews from my readers. So if you download it, can I ask you to leave a review on the Amazon site. Hopefully I will get some four and five-star reviews, as this will also help with promotion of the book as we go. If you read it and find that you really don’t like it then I still would love to hear what you have to say about it. Constructive criticism is always welcome and I would prefer to get that within an email. I will be able to make my subsequent books better and I can also go back into this book and make changes where necessary.

Has Apple software got so bad?

The moAbout Marco organing started off with the developer responsible for the application Overcast. An application for listening to podcasts on your iOS device. Marco Arment wrote a blog post complaining about the quality of Apple software. As you might expect with Apple commentators and bloggers, one or two others joined in as well. My view on this is along the lines of asking the developer to quit throwing stones while standing in a glasshouse. The Overcast application has crashed my iPhone 6 five or six times this week which is rather annoying to say the least. It took me a while to work out what it was that was crashing the system. It was confirmed when I saw a message on the phone to say it was audio-based. Marco, the developer knows about this and has over the last couple of days updated the software. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Overcast app behaves since the update.

I don’t think that the overall state of software development from Apple is particularly bad. There is no such thing as a finished software application. Unless we are talking about Aperture which is finished in terms of the sun setting on it and it will be no more. Dead, deceased and not longer of the world. There are always going to be niggles and things that were working okay being broken by upgrades. There will always be things that we would like to see changed or made better in some way or other. It is quite possible that we are getting more picky and expecting higher standards. Perhaps we should be getting it better given the amount of money that Apple has sitting in its bank account. Surely Apple can afford to pay for the best software engineers and have more of them, so that the software gets better quicker. In any case, I am generally quite happy with what I can do with my Apple computers, Mac OS X and iOS. I love it that often it seems like we are already living in the future. It is going to be extremely interesting when Home Kit takes off. The Apple Watch is going to be another piece of the jigsaw will both have the Apple fans complaining and adoring at the same time. I am of the opinion that with Apple we are getting something that will work as a complete system. There will be links between the software and the hardware we get to play with. It is all going to make our lives better in ways that we don’t yet realise. I am prepared to put up with the small irritations along the way just so long as there is a big plan in place for something marvellous at the end of the day.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Mac20Q Podcast 122 – Encryption apps

If you have followed some of the Wizardgold video tutorials on Youtube you will see that I’m interested in encryption. I have video tutorials showing you how to encrypt your emails and you can use the same GPG encryption system to encrypt any of your files. With all of the bad things that are happening around the world at the moment, There are always bad things happening – there is renewed interest in privacy and security. Politicians that have no idea whatsoever about how technology works, are looking to have a crackdown on ordinary citizens using encryption. David Cameron, the British Priminister has made a statement in which he says that he is looking for cooperation from the US president and also the companies that hold our data, to get back door access to anybody’s data are they require it. Companies such as Apple and Google have already taken the stand that they don’t want to be involved with this type of shenanigans. They are making their system work in such a way as they would not be able to show their users data, to anybody, including governments and law enforcement even if they were asked to. Quite simply they are not going to hold the keys so it will be impossible for them to be coerced into divulging their customers private information. This is as it should be, because what the politicians don’t realise is that if there is a back door in, then it is a gaping hole for anybody to use. The bad hackers that are out there will do whatever they can in order to find these access points so they can also have unfettered access to our data.

Give me a PGP Cheatsheet



Je suis charlieWhen politicians are making statements like this it kind of shows the world just how stupid they are and two-faced to boot. On one hand they take part in parades in Paris to show solidarity with free speech and then with the other hand they turn around and say that the general public are not allowed to have privacy and security of their own data. The same goes for religious leaders and yes Pope Frankie we are talking about you. On one hand they condemn the attacks on free speech by religion inspired extremists and then say that free speech has limits. Obviously they don’t like the idea of free speech taking the Mickey out of their religion either.

This week I have tested out an application called Tutanota which allows you to send encrypted email without having the bother of trying to understand public and private key encryption. You can get the application to use this from your mobile devices and you can send encrypted email to anybody even if they don’t have the application or an account with this service. I think it is still better to use GPG as you are the person responsible for looking after the private keys which you use to decrypt anything that has been sent to you encrypted.

When using an external service you do have to put a certain amount of trust into how that service works and whoever is running that service. With Tutanota the way that sending private emails works is that you send the encrypted message and you get the password to your recipient by other separate and safe means. Your agreed password with your recipient you can send by a secure chat service that you know has end-to-end encryption. You could go the analog route by actually making a phone call and telling your recipient the password. If you are completely paranoid then you could decide that the only way to pass the password along safely would be to do it face-to-face. You would use a similar process if you are giving somebody your public key from GPG encryption if you need to make sure of the key verification. It is all about trust and signing of keys. If you know a key definitely belongs to someone you can sign it and boost its level of trust for everybody. This is why you sometimes have GPG public key parties. This would be where a group of people wishing to use encryption will actually meet up and verify that the public key they are being given belongs to the person they are expecting to get messages from.

So the nitty-gritty of the way that Tutanota works with somebody who is not subscribed to the service, is they receive an email that has been encrypted and is therefore unreadable by anyone. Within that email there is a link to go to the Tutanota website and that is where they put in the password allowing them to read that email. The weak link in this service is that it assumes that the computer being used by the recipient is not compromised. It assumes that there are no keyloggers installed or other malware which can both steal the key, the password to open the email or just be able to read the email anyway. The other reason why I would prefer to take control of my own encryption keys is the fact that Tutanova is being done as a web service and I don’t personally know how secure that web service really is.

You have to take into account the level of security and privacy that you’re looking for when you choose the encryption method you are going to use. For better quality general-purpose encryption then I would recommend using GPG and you can have a look at my tutorials which show you how to use it. It is a little bit more difficult to understand exactly how the public and private key system works. Once you have got your head around it you’ll see that it is actually fairly easy to use especially when you are using a plug-in for your email application on your Mac or your iOS device. The next best encryption that I would recommend would be to use the certificates that you can get from places like StartSSL and Comodo. They are free to use if you use the certificates that last for just one year. These companies in my opinion can be trusted and you have to verify yourself in order to get the certificate. This gives a level of trust to let other people know that you are who you say you are when you are communicating with them. This system is a little bit more difficult to set up, but once it is in place it is quite easy to use. The difficulty with this one would be where you want to communicate with somebody who is not technically minded enough to be able to get it set up in the first place. There are other encryption applications you can use where you control the keys and you are not reliant upon a service like Tutanota. With one of these you would be able to encrypt a file or some text and use the password method in the same way as you would with Tutanota. As they say, you pays your money and you make your choice.

Do have a look at the Wizardgold YouTube channel and find the tutorials to learn how to use GPG encryption. The Apple mail application in the Yosemite has just had the plug-in updated to work as it did before it was broken by the operating system upgrade. You can also use GPG encryption with the mail application Postbox. This app is in the latest MacHeist bundle if you want to get your hands on it. I used it for a while but find I prefer the Apple Mail App. When you’ve got everything set up for your sending and receiving of encrypted emails, if you need to, you can send me some emails and have a practice. The same goes for using the certificates if you want to see how that works. I am always open to answer your questions.

Give me a PGP Cheatsheet

Blogging with Scrivener

ScrivenerAs you know, I am a big fan of Scrivener the writer’s application and it is the app that I use when I am writing my books. The first of these books is coming out soon and the brand name is Goodandgeeky. The first book looks at having a writer’s workflow which is technology-based with the hardware and software that I like to use from Apple. Whenever I have some writing to do it doesn’t matter if I am out and about with my iPad or iPhone or whether I am in my office. My flexible writers workflow even works great when I am lying down on the sofa with my feet up dictating with Siri into my iPad Air 2.

What I do presently with my writing is that I put it all into text documents that I have written using markdown. I do keep all of these text documents in one place and to help me find them at a later stage I use the tagging, keywords that is part of the operating system. Whenever I save a new file I always add the tags. So I have a tag for each of my podcasts and if I want to search for example through Mac20Q work that I have done I can search with that tag. That tag will bring up everything connected to Mac 20 Questions. This means I will see graphics I have made using Affinity Designer, Pixelmator, Art Text 2 as well as any text documents and the audio files that I create when I’m making the podcast using Amadeus Pro.

I have been thinking lately though, that it would be useful to have all of these text documents in one place and Scrivener would be the perfect place to put them all. This would be useful if I decide at a later stage that I want to create a book from any writings that I have made so far for any of my blog sites.

What a mess

My mom is driving me to distraction. She has an iPad, and iPhone and a MacBook. The iPad and iPhone are signed into different Apple ID’s and I haven’t seen how the Macbook is connected. She has been gettin the people in the shop that sold her the phone to help her and she has no idea about security. Passwords are terrible even though she has the 1Password app. She goes home tomorrow and I wished I had come across this problem earlier so I could sort it out. I want to do it so that she is not having to travel home from Barcelona to Birmingham tomorrow without either one or the other having been taken out of service by what I have to do to it.


When she gets home I will get her to tell me what Apple ID is on the Macbook and that may help us decide which of the iOS devices have to be changed. It will be good if I can get her to make a back up first too. I had better persuade here to bring all the devices next time she comes and I can really make sure all is set up right.

These people in the Apple shops and phone shops helping her have made a crap job of guiding her to set up the iOS device. No wonder I am annoyed. I am a bit miffed – Can you tell…

Posted in Mac20Q.

Mac20Q Podcast 121 – Zkarj – Allister Jenks

Talking to Allister Jenks from New Zealand


Allister is a podcaster from New Zealand although he is of no fixed abode for a home podcast at the moment. He does do guest podcasting for Alison Sheridan on the Nosillacast and he also appears on other Mac-based podcasts such as the Let’s Talk Apple Podcast which is run by Bart Busschots. Do have a listen to the whole interview with Allister as it is quite interesting we talk about various applications both for the Mac and for iOS.

Looking to the Skies

Allister has an interest in aeroplanes and this comes from his dad having been a pilot. He uses an application on his iPad that gives him information about planes that are flying, wherever around the world. It is much more interesting when you can see these flights above you and you can get information about them. You can see where the plane is going from and to and which airline is running the flight, as well as the type of aeroplane. Allister uses the application called FlightRadar24. I have a similar application called PlaneFinderHD. This app also has a feature where you can point the camera of your device to the aeroplane as it flies above you and you get a badge which tells you some of the details. Allister has a story about seeing a notification about a problem, emergency on a flight and was able to watch as the flight made an emergency landing. He was then able to follow up with googling for the news about this flight to get the full details about what actually happened. I just did some tests with the application I have been using to find information about aeroplane flights and I don’t think it really worked very well. The aeroplanes that I can see in flight above my don’t really match what I can see on the map in the application. I will have to give FlightRadar24 they try to see how it works. I see that there is a Mac application for this and also an iOS application.

Flightradar24 com Live flight tracker

A House Full of Apple Computer Devices

As a family man and the rest of the family using Apple devices also he has a number of computers, iPads and iPhones belonging to himself, the wife and the kids. He has a website called Macthoughts. one of his recent blog posts is about his recording setup in which he talks about the microphone that uses. I see that a has a mixer just the same as one that I own when I’m using my top quality microphone. I don’t tend to use it so much now as I have a Samson microphone which I can connect via USB which is a little bit easier.

An Interest in Photography

ZKARJ dot ME All roads lead to me

During the interview we talk about using Aperture and taking photos. Allister on Flickr. We go over the workflow that he uses that suits the way he wants to get the RAW files in from his big DSLR camera into his Mac. Like myself, Allister is optimistic about the plans Apple have for sunsetting the Aperture application and bringing in an app which will cover all ends of the user spectrum from beginner to professional photographer. Well in truth, we are both taking a wait-and-see approach and continuing to use Aperture. I think it makes sense to see what happens and it is not necessarily the best idea to have a knee-jerk reaction and jumping over to Adobe products. Apple did a great job with Final Cut Pro with getting it up to date and enhancing it for everybody. I expect them to do a similar job with the Photos App.

Posted in Podcast.

Starting the year with Mac 20 questions

Journalling with Day One

A good way to start the year for anything is to use a new diary or journal and the app I’ve been using for the last three years is called Day One. It has a number of really good features not least the fact that is available on iOS as well as on the Mac. A particularly useful tool is the setting that will remind you to write as many times per day as you would like to be reminded. I have mine set so that it will remind me twice per day, but you could go crazy if you wanted to and have it remind you 20 times every day. That could be just a little bit annoying, but on the other hand if you specifically wanted to keep track of something in particular it could be just what you need. The way the reminder thing works on the Mac is there is a little pop down from the menu bar at the top. You add whatever text you like into this little box and it puts it into the Day One application as a new post. The only thing with using this place of entry for your journal is that if you want to add photos you need to go to the main application window. So I do quite often open up the window and view the timeline so that I can see all of my posts. From there I can click on the plus icon and start a new posting in which I can add photos to go with the text. I often think it would be nice if I could add audio and video into this application and you never know maybe that will come in a future version.



Keeping it secret

Depending on what sort of things you write in your Day One journal you might want to keep it secret. Like where you have hidden the bodies! It is rather good that you can set a password protection to use on the Mac version of Day One as well as on iOS. It is not really very likely that somebody is going to get access physically to my Mac and it is already protected by a password entry to the system overall. Then again, it is nice to know that there is an extra layer of security in the same way as you have for a password protection into 1Password. I suppose that if you were really paranoid you could encrypt all of the text that you put into your diary/journal using something like GPG. In fact, if you wanted to you could just select a block of text and only encrypt the top-secret stuff.

Keeping it sorted

It is likely that there will be a variety of topics that you cover generally in your journal. With Day One you can add tags to your postings. Just in the same way as you can add tags to any of the files that you create on your Mac to help you find things later. I don’t tend to tag many things but it is good to keep the tags quite general. I do have a tag for when I have created a note about having made a backup using Superduper with my data on the Mac. I find it useful to have a reminder of when I did it although I do try to remind myself using a recurring reminder in OmniFocus.

I have started to post the text from my blogs into DayOne to have one place where I can find everything of my writing. So I could tag those posts with the tags blogging and then the tag for whichever blog it belongs to. If you are using tagging, it is good thing to remember to keep to one topic per post. So I don’t put in a post that has a little bit about what I have been doing during the day, along with a blog post text as well as some other stuff about my book writing activities. That is another thing that I like about keeping a journal, that I can use it to keep track of my work, so that I can see I have not been wasting too much time consuming stuff from social networks etc.

Getting more into Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer

Over time I have got used to diving into a bitmap editor like Pixelmator whenever I needed to make whatever sort of image. Or I would use something like Art Text 2 if I needed to create something that was more like a button, an icon, or some type of logo to use on a webpage. I am delighted that I have found Affinity Designer for creating vector graphics on my Mac. Before I used the Mac I was an avid user of CorelDraw and I used it in my signwriting business every single day. I think I can safely say I was an expert user of that application. On the Mac I tried using Adobe Illustrator, but it wasn’t as easy to use and didn’t do some of the things that I wanted to do with a vector graphics application. I also tried Vector Designer, Candy Apple, Inkscape and other graphics design applications and none of them really did it for me.

Affinity Designer is still at a version 1 and there is a need for missing features to be added and some improvements. Even so, the application is looking pretty good already. It has a general feel of quality and suitability for professional use. The price of it is pretty good, I always found CorelDraw! to be expensive quite even though it was very good. One of the unique selling propositions for Affinity Designer that the developers of the application are pushing, is that it doesn’t require a monthly fee in order to use it. They are having a go at Adobe with that one.

One of things that it needs is for an artist to be able to move the centre of rotation of an object to wherever required. At the moment it is stuck in the centre of the object and there are occasions where it does need to be moved, not just anywhere within the object, but also to any point on the canvas. I have spoken to the developers about this and they say it is something that is coming in a future version of the application. The only other thing that has bothered me with the application is that on a couple of occasions a text object has just kind of vanished. The layer where the text object was situated is still visible in the layers palette, but the object itself (the text) is missing in action. The only thing that I could do was to just recreate it again. Both times this happened was when I was trying to change the font and text size and it was gone. Poooof….


2015 with all my Apple gear

As you may know, I had nearly a year and a half using an Android phone along with an Android tablet. It was an interesting experiment and there were things that at first I did like, in the Android operating system. The Nexus 7 was particularly useful to use as my Kindle device and also be available for various other bits and pieces. With it being very light and easy to carry, I carried it around the house with me. Now that I have the iPad Air 2 I have a tablet portable device that is even more useful to me. It is more useful because I have more of the applications that I want to use. The iPad is more capable, especially in certain areas like video and audio recording and editing. If it wasn’t for my need to use DragonDictate which is only available on my Mac I could probably go for days not using my desktop computer. I do, do some dictating on the iPad and is particularly nice when I am perhaps lying on the sofa or it could be when I am sitting eating my lunch. The Siri dictation isn’t as accurate as DragonDictate although pretty useful all the same. I also enjoyed using the Samsung Galaxy S3 when I first got it, but in the end because I missed my iOS applications so much I was glad to get back with the iPhone 6. Last week when I was in Barcelona and I visited the Apple Store in the centre of the city. I had a good look at the iPhone 6 plus and I was impressed. I would love to have one of those, but I don’t really need it because I have my iPad Air 2. Besides, I have to have an iPhone which will fit nicely into my top shirt pocket. The larger phone would poke out too much and would be more likely to fall out and crash to the concrete floor and break. We don’t want that now do we?

Apple Store

I want the Apple Watch

Even though I am not sure that I want to buy a first generation device from Apple, I do want to get my hands on the watch. After seeing the videos as to what the watch can do, I think it could be quite useful for me. I like the health features that are included with the watch and it will be interesting to see how other applications make use of the device. It could be useful to have notifications coming through from OmniFocus. If I am able to wear it in bed then it would be useful to have the silent notification for when it is time to get up. I tried that feature out when I borrowed a FitBit and although it seemed a little bit weird at first, it was quite handy. The trick was to set the time about five minutes before having an audible alarm set as a backup. I didn’t need to use the audible alarm so I was able to turn it off before it woke up my wife. So anyway, I am looking forward to getting my hands on the Apple watch and I hope that it is going to be sooner this year rather than later. March or April would be okay.

Using the Mac on the desktop

I do feel quite comfortable sitting at my desk in front of my Mac which is a 27 inch iMac from 2011. It has been added to and upgraded with a 27 inch monitor to give me extra space for working and even with that sometimes I feel I could still make use of a third monitor. I’m sure it would feel like I was at the bridge of the starship enterprise with such a setup screens in front of me and I would just love that. I might need to get a bigger desk! I have also added an SSD which I boot from via Thunderbolt and this works perfectly. It is fast and you wouldn’t know that it was from an external drive at all. I would have preferred to have changed the internal drive to an SSD and also to have taken out of the DVD drive and to have put an SSD there. Now that the AppleCare has come to an end there is a chance that I might do that at some point during this year. In any case, I am still very happy with this computer and I am certainly likely to keep it for another two years, maybe even three.

Having both the iPhone 6 and the iPad Air 2 I do like to be mobile and I could go post-PC for much of what I do. There is something about the tactile quality and the more intimate computer usage you get with with iOS and with the changes IOS 8 has brought it has been a much better experience lately. The application WorkFlow on iOS gives us some automation which is useful even though it doesn’t go as far as what I can get from Alfred 2, Keyboard Maestro, Hazel, BetterTouchTool, Automator or even AppleScript. So there are a number of things which will keep me happily chained to my desk and my iMac.


The Mac 20 questions podcast for 2015

My plan is to do the weekly Mac20Q podcast on a Friday every week this year. I have enjoyed getting back into making the podcast and talking to my guests on the show. There will be one or two podcasts where speak solo and without a guest, such as this one where I haven’t been able to spend the time getting the next guest are ready due to the holiday season. If you would like to be featured on the podcast why don’t you send me an email to Mac 20 Q at and we can arrange something. We can record the chat using Skype or FaceTime. I recently got my hands on the recorder from the same people that make the software so that I can record from Skype, Ecamm Network. I haven’t been able to test it yet but I am looking forward to doing so.

Mac20Q Video


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Posted in Mac Hardware.

Mac20Q Podcast 119 Featuring Bob Middleton

Two old geezers talking tech

Well that was the way that Bob from Japan described it and I had to say “Hang on a minute mate, less of the old!” Well, maybe I do have a few years under my belt, but in my head I’m still a teenager. It seems that at my age it is easy to be amazed that the kids are not impressed by technology. On account of the fact that when I was a teenager if I wanted to make a phone call I would have to go out of the house walk a couple of hundred metres to a red telephone box. I would have to put ten pence pieces into the phone box and the call would be limited by how far away I wanted to call. It really feels like I’m living in the future. Like today when I was able to chat to my brother on a video chat using FaceTime. I was able to see my brother’s granddaughter jumping up and down and being completely hyper on account of her being excited by Christmas. Technology is brilliant!

Photo Bob Middleton Mac20Q

The Graffle at Christmas

Bob likes to use the application called Omnigraffle by the Omni group for making flashcards to use in Japanese classrooms teaching kids English. We also talked about various applications from the drawing and painting applications. The apps you can use on the iOS and Mac computers to do animation were also mentioned. Naturally, with Bob being in Japan we had to mention the drawing application called Manga Studio. We also chatted about the stop motion software that you can get called iStopMotion. I have to admit that I do own that software, but as yet I have not managed to create any movies with plasticine figures moving around the place. I believe it is possible to use the application using the camera on one device while controlling it from another. This makes it possible to leave the camera fixed in position which is necessary for good quality animation using iStopMotion.

Last weeks Mac20Q podcast

The iPad in Education

There is a guy in Scotland in a school called Cedars School by the name of Fraser Spiers who is in charge of the technology used. The pupils at the school are incredibly lucky to have an iPad at each with which to do their schoolwork. Bob tells me that they have recently got 12 iPads in the classroom of the Japanese school and the children have to share. It is funny because I imagined that a Japanese school would have lots of technology. Yet at the same time it is not surprising that they don’t, because the Japanese also have a big thing about tradition. Maybe it has been the case that the tradition was to use Windows computers at the school, because that is the way it is. Bob Middleton is able to get around this to a certain extent by taking his own Apple MacBook into school. Bob also uses an iPhone.

Posted in Podcast.

Mac20Q podcast 118 talking to Fritz Alcindor Jr

Fritz from near New York

Fritz badge

Fritz has an iPhone 6+ and a MacBook Pro and is a keen user of Apple gear. Like many of us Apple users we find it much easier to use Apple products to make videos and to work with photos. Fritz tells me that he likes to use Final Cut Pro X and I was a little bit surprised when he told me that he bought videos in first using iPhoto. There are a lot of different ways to skin a cat, so lots of different approaches to take when you are working with Apple products. Sometimes I wonder why it is that the naysayers, otherwise known as Apple haters, say things like we are stuck in a sandbox. I certainly never feel like I am hemmed in by the Cupertino way of doing things. Quite often it is the only way to do stuff because it is the best way to do something. You just try and do some video editing on an Android device and you will know what I’m talking about.

Shooting video and taking photos

Fritz uses a Canon DSLR camera to shoot his video and still shots. He tells me that he is keen to upgrade the camera to a full frame version of the same make. Personally, I would prefer to go with the Sony A7 range of cameras if I was going to go to full frame. After using the Sony NEX6 for some time now I really appreciate having a mirrorless camera. I think it is just the way of the future. I did hear rumours just the other day that Nikon might be bringing out a top of the range mirrorless camera themselves sometime soon.

Last week I talked about being in bed with Siri in the Mac20Q podcast

My week with my Mac and my iOS devices

Good and Geeky Logo 2

For the last couple of days I have spent quite a bit of time working in Scrivener which has to be the best writers software out there. I am getting very close to finishing off the book I have been working on for a little while now. This is a book about how to use technology of Apple software and hardware to beat writers block and to be creative. The book is all about making a Good And Geeky Writers Workflow. There is absolutely no need why anybody should sit and stare at the computer in front of a blank screen and not know what the hell to write. I think that by using a geeky technology filled writers workflow, that a writing project such as a book, an article or a webpage will almost write itself. It doesn’t really matter whether you sit in front of your computer with the proper software or whether you are lying on the sofa using the iPad or iPhone. If you are a creative geek then you know what to do to get things moving. This book will soon be available on the Amazon bookstore and there will be extras included in the form of a number of tutorial videos. So do look out for the Good and Geeky Writers Workflow.

Posted in Podcast.
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